US election 2020: 5 storylines to watch this week



Every week between now and then matters as the potential picks jockey for the pole position.  

Already this week we have a joint op-ed by Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasting Trump for his alleged disinterest in oversight. 

“We have also both served in the executive branch and answered to independent oversight,” the two wrote. “Take it from us: Oversight is vital to an effective democracy and a fair economy, and it’s a threat only if you have something to hide.”
Warren is also the clear favorite among Democratic voters to be Biden’s pick, according to a new CBS News poll. California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also got double-digit support in the survey.
It’s not clear whether numbers like that will influence Biden or his vetters. In my most recent VP rankings, my Top 5 was: Harris, Klobuchar, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. (Warren was 6th.)
4. How much $$$ will state and local governments get?: With the Senate — inexplicably — returning to Washington tomorrow, the question of the next stimulus package, this one for state and local governments, will take center stage.

And unlike the previous stimulus packages passed by Congress to deal with the coronavirus epidemic, this one is already bogged down in partisan fighting.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said late last week that she could see that package including $1 trillion in aid.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, called that number “pretty outrageous.” And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who previously suggested states should simply declare bankruptcy, has insisted that any money to state and local governments must include liability protections for businesses and health care professionals to ensure they are not sued as states begin to reopen. (More on reopening below.)

So, the battle lines have been drawn. And neither side looks willing, at least in the near term, to compromise. Which means state and local governments — already struggling to stay afloat — may get caught in the partisan crossfire.

3. The Georgia petri dish: Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s deeply controversial decision at the end of April to reopen his state’s economy despite the fact that it had not met the federal guidelines for reopening is now 10 days old.

That move opened the floodgates for other states — particularly those with Republican governors — to reopen in some way shape or form. (More than half the states have rescinded stay-at-home orders.)
This week and next will be the critical ones to see whether Kemp’s gamble paid off. As of Saturday, the state had reported 28,332 cases with 1,174 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Health. On Friday and Saturday almost 2,000 new cases were reported, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Much rides on whether Georgia’s coronavirus case load stays steady or soars. And not just for Kemp. While President Donald Trump has said he disagreed with Kemp’s decision to reopen, he has been vocally supportive of the need to reopen the nation’s economy and quick to declare victory over the coronavirus.

If the situation in Georgia goes bad, it suggests that similar results could follow in the slew of other states that have reopened. And that would not only be a public health nightmare but a political one too for Trump.

2. Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior: When President Trump feels as though things aren’t going his way, he reacts like a cornered animal: He attacks, attacks, attacks.

That position — and reaction — is where we are today regarding the President. Take just his Sunday morning activity on Twitter.  Here are the topics he covered:

* Polls — “Fake” and otherwise

* The media as “Chinese puppets”

* “RIGGED Elections”

* Polls

* A video of Mike Tyson sparring

* Missing campaign rallies

*  The coronavirus “cure” being worse than the “problem”

* Polls

* George W. Bush not defending him during impeachment

* His golf course in Scotland

Now, imagine literally ANYONE you know sending these same tweets in a single morning. And if they did, what you might think. You’d be worried, for sure. Heck, you might even reach out to make sure everything is OK.

When it is the President of the United States flailing about so wildly — amid a pandemic that has already sickened more than 1 million people and killed nearly 67,000? Whoa boy.

I’ve written before that this is all to be expected. As the election draws closer and if polling — real polling — continues to suggest that Trump is an underdog against Biden, his tendencies toward scapegoating and lashing out will only intensify. He will be even more willing — if that’s possible — to say or do anything to reverse his fortunes.

We are six months out from the November election. While it seems amazing, we may well look back at Trump’s mindset at this moment as the start of the really bad stuff, not its end.

1. Did Biden do enough?: For once, the biggest 2020 storyline of the week isn’t about Trump. It’s his general election opponent who’s in the spotlight, as allegations of sexual assault from a former Senate staffer named Tara Reade still linger.

Biden’s decision — finally — to address the accusation last Friday was a smart one, and his unequivocal denial was the only thing he could say to stay in the race.
But questions remain. Reade’s former neighbor, a friend of hers at the time, and her brother all confirm that she told them of the incident. Reade has said she filed a complaint with a personnel office on Capitol Hill alleging that Biden made her feel uncomfortable although she did not mention the alleged sexual assault. A newly found video from 1993 appears to show Reade’s mother calling into Larry King’s CNN show asking for advice about “problems” her daughter had been having while working for a “prominent senator.”

These set of realities have not been changed by Biden’s complete denial. All we have now is Biden’s side saying one thing and Reade’s saying the other. Both can’t be true. But we may never know which one is.

The big question now for Biden and Reade is whether the public is satisfied with his denial. Or whether these lingering questions demand a deeper look. 

The New York Times editorial board is very much in the latter camp. They wrote over the weekend of Biden’s denial:

“This is a start, but it does not go far enough. Any serious inquiry must include the trove of records from Mr. Biden’s Senate career that he donated to the University of Delaware in 2012.”

Biden has insisted those records have no personnel files and are therefore irrelevant. Does the public agree? Has Biden shut down this story? Or simply finished the first chapter?





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